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Yemeni Vice President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi announced the formation of a national reconciliation government on Wednesday (December 7th) in accordance with the provisions of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) initiative that ended President Ali Abdullah Saleh's tenure.
The new government will be divided evenly between the ruling General People's Congress Party and the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP), led by opposition leader Mohammed Salem Basendwah. It is to be sworn in on Saturday in front of Hadi.
The government includes, in addition to its president, 34 ministers split evenly between the opposition and the ruling party and its allies.
The Congress Party will head the foreign affairs, defence, oil, communications and public work ministries, while the opposition will be in charge of the interior, finance, media and international cooperation ministries.
Five Congress Party ministers retained their posts, including Dr. Abu Bakr al-Qirbi, who will continue as foreign minister, and Gen. Mohamed Nasser Ahmed, who will continue as defence minister. Four others replaced their ministerial portfolio with another, and the eight remaining portfolios were given to first-time appointees.
The opposition side of the government has all new appointees, except Minister of Electricity Dr. Saleh Samee, who served previously as the minister of expatriates.
The new government has given three ministerial portfolios to women for the first time in the country's history. Dr. Amat al-Razzaq Hamad of the Congress Party was appointed minister of social affairs and labor, Horiya Mashhour, spokesperson for the opposition National Council of the Popular Revolution Forces, was appointed minister of human rights, and Jawhara Hammoud, assistant secretary-general of the opposition Socialist Party, was appointed as state minister for cabinet affairs.
Under the terms of the GCC initiative, Hadi assumes the executive powers of the president during the transition period, and Saleh will remain honorary president until presidential elections are held on February 21st.
Also according to the agreement, the new government has 10 days to submit its programme to the House of Representatives.
"The national reconciliation government has some daunting tasks, which include addressing the concerns of young people and their revolution in building a stable and democratic Yemen, and changing the political system to build a civil and constitutional state in which all citizens have equal rights," said Mohammed al-Sabri, official spokesman for the Preparatory Committee for National Dialogue.
Al-Sabri said realisation of these demands will not be easy and will require great determination.
Abdul Hafeez al-Nahari, vice president of media relations for the Congress Party, told Al-Shorfa the national reconciliation government is charged with many important responsibilities, including paving the way for presidential elections in February.
"Getting rid of military and security tension is the first step for the government along with putting an end to all hostilities and divisions in the army, reassuring citizens and safeguarding their rights and property from any violations," he said.
Al-Nahari said stability will return if the government restores services to citizens, notably electricity and fuel.
"The government must engage in a serious dialogue with young people and act upon their vision, their projects and their aspirations to achieve social peace, as stipulated in the initiative to achieve their demands and ensure the people's demands for change and building a modern civil state."
The Youth of the Revolution, however, rejected the government, which they described as maintaining the Saleh regime with different faces.
"The government is the product of the GCC initiative, which the rebels rejected from its first draft. It provided guarantees to Saleh and his regime that protected them from trial while the rebels are demanding a trial for him and his family for crimes committed against the youth in the Change squares," said Fahd al-Muneifi, a member of the Youth Revolution Coalition in Sanaa.
The formation of a government was delayed because of demands by the JMP that a military committee be established to eliminate hostilities and pull military units back to their barracks to restore calm. Hadi responded to the demands by forming the committee last Sunday.